Published on December 18, 2019

Jiu Valley receives technical assistance from Coal Platform through START programme

, Dan Dobre (Bankwatch Romania)

After six mayors from Jiu Valley, one of Romania’s main mining regions, signed a memorandum of understanding on just transition, they went on to successfully apply for the Secretariat Technical Assistance to Regions in Transition (START), offered by the Platform for Coal Regions in Transition.

The aim of the START programme is to offer support to coal regions in order to develop local expertise, capabilities and capacities. Using a co-creation approach that aims to engage recipients as active participants, the programme will focus on two main areas: economic diversification and decarbonisation. The key moments of the just transition process that the technical assistance will work towards will be: the development of just transition strategies, the identification of “priority projects” and the development of “priority projects” – including adequate financing strategies.

The application was written as a collaboration between all the mayors’ offices with help from NGOs Bankwatch and Greenpeace. The main priorities that the regional public authorities identified as necessary for the transition process were producing and developing regional projects that will benefit the whole valley.

The Coal Platform selected the Romanian application to receive support via START, so by March / April 2020 the START work-plan will be formulated through desk research combined with a 3-day visit in the region, with a strong focus on the needs identified in the application by local actors. The 120 days of technical assistance will include online capacity building,  tailor-made trainings and regional visits from experts in order to address the specific needs identified in this process.

These development projects identified by the local actors in this process should be included in the `Strategy for the transition from coal in the Jiu Valley` currently being developed by the Romanian Ministry of EU Funds. Price Waterhouse Cooper(PwC) Romania has been subcontracted to produce the strategy. This process already started in December 2019 and it should deliver the final strategy in September 2020. PwC worked on a similar strategy for Upper Nitra region in Slovakia, which was a success. The expertise and good practices they accumulated in Slovakia will be used for developing a strategy for Jiu Valley (some of the experts working in Slovakia will be engaged in Romania too).

At the same time, to further aid to the development of the region, the EU Funds Ministry announced that the Jiu Valley will become the second region in Romania to benefit from Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI). An ITI is a territorial delivery mechanism that enables the implementation of a territorial strategy in an integrated manner while drawing funds from at least two different priority axes in the same or different programmes. So the Strategy and ITI will both benefit from the development projects identified through the START programme.

All of these taken together will constitute a significant boost for the just transition process in the Jiu Valley, a process which – importantly – involves most of the  relevant local stakeholders. Local NGOs will be invited to have their say in the selection of the development projects that should serve as a basis for the future economic development of the region.

Finally, by looking at all these developments, we can say that the Jiu Valley seems to be on track in the just transition process. Going forward, it is important to make sure that the future development projects will indeed focus on the transition to a low-carbon economy which will produce sustainable quality jobs for the region. Another key step that needs to be taken in the future is to include trade unions as, in Romania, these key actors were not always taking part in these processes.

Photo by Flickr user Carpathianland.